Increases in personal satisfaction, though, are not all that’s at stake. In terms of social, as opposed to individual, value, we care a lot about how our cognitive surplus gets used. Participating in [crowdsourced crisis information] creates more value for society than participating in [making lolcats]; making and sharing open source software creates value for more people than making and sharing Harry Potter fan fiction. The value from Ushahidi or open source software is more than the sum of the personal satisfactions of the participants; nonparticipants also derive value from the effort. You can think of this scale of value as rising from personal to communal to public to civic.
One such form is personal sharing, done among otherwise uncoordinated individuals; think ICanHasCheezburger. Another, more involved form is communal sharing, which takes place inside a group of collaborators; think Meetup.com groups for post-partum depression. Then there is public sharing, when a group of collaborators actively wants to create a public resource; think the Apache software project [or Wikipedia]. Finally, civic sharing is when a group is actively trying to transform society; think Pink Chaddi. The spectrum from personal to communal to public to civic describes the degree of value created for participants versus nonparticipants.
— Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus
Our MMO world tends strongly towards communal sharing, where even our public sharing (a wiki for every game) is mostly of value within the community, but see tomorrow’s post about how that value expands.